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Back to Work: How to Deal with Returning from Vacation

Back to Work: How to Deal with Returning from Vacation

I’m a bad mom. How bad? Well, this morning, after screaming at my kids for screaming at each other, I bribed them with cookies for breakfast, and when they continued whining, I offered them candy in the car on the way to camp and child care. Bad, right? Well, at least it worked.

You see, we just returned yesterday from a 10-day vacation. We combined plenty of peaceful relaxing days getting in touch with nature with an overload of screen time, an onslaught of relatives, too late bedtimes, too early rising, and plenty of fireworks, both literal and figurative. The result is that in many ways, getting them to school and camp and myself back to work was both the best and worst part of the trip. You see, my husband stayed back to clean up the tornado we left behind on vacation. And I brought the kids home and had to deal with the storm of re-entry to normal life without backup.

Kids on vacation during July 4th

Getting Back into a Routine after Vacation

Both kids had trouble recognizing 8:30 p.m. as a normal bedtime, and neither got to sleep until hours later. My 7-year-old daughter woke up seriously sleep-deprived and had a crushing downward spiral that started the moment her feet hit the floor. Her bathing suit was too tight (it’s actually size too big), her brother was annoying (what else is new?), her bug bites itched (can she not just ask for cream?), and her bagel was making her phlegmy (huh?). She was alternately sobbing and screaming all morning, propelled only by her determination to get to camp so she could swim and enjoy the end-of-day popsicle. My 3-year-old son, on the other hand, seemed to have some dream about a mean guy taking his toys and he couldn’t separate his dream world from reality. Trying to reason with a 3-year-old is bad enough. Trying to reason with a semi-delusional 3-year-old is an absurd endeavor. Trying to reason with a semi-delusional 3-year-old who can’t understand why we have to come home from vacation and get back to normal life is a Nobel peace prize worthy challenge. Our morning felt like an episode of the twilight zone.

But between the cookies and the candy, the prospect of swimming and popsicles for my daughter, and a Lighting McQueen backpack filled with toys for my son, we got where we needed to go. We dropped my daughter off at camp, tear-free and actually semi-enthusiastic about seeing her friends and counselors. My son actually ran through the door of the child care center and bounded with enthusiasm into his classroom. I actually had to wrestle him for a goodbye hug, after which he promptly turned away and headed to the art table, trailing more evidence of my bad parenting in the form of a glob of marshmallow from Saturday night’s s’mores making smack in the back of his head.

It sure feels good to be back at work.



  1. Profile photo of Amy

    Amy July 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I love this post – such a true snapshot of life in my house!

  2. Mary - Organized Mom July 8, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I LOVE this post! I had to forward it to my husband who responded and said this post kind of “makes me feel normal”. That’s exactly what it did for me. I feel for you but at the same time I appreciate your honesty as I can really relate and it gives me a sense that other parents are going through the same things we are at times. This is probably me favorite line too… “My 7-year-old daughter woke up seriously sleep-deprived and had a crushing downward spiral that started the moment her feet hit the floor.” We’ve definitely had those days and you captured that feeling perfectly!

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